Combating Misinformation

Be Your Own Fact Checker and Help Stop the Spread of Misinformation

Have you been doing your part to stop the spread of misinformation? It’s very easy for information to be interpreted incorrectly, or for information to be completely or partly wrong.  It is just like a game of telephone, when the original message goes through a few people and by the time it gets back to you the story has completely changed. The important thing is to know how to spot potentially false information, and take the proper steps to investigate its validity, before sharing it.

In an internet age where information is readily available and comes out at a faster pace than ever, false and incorrect information is also getting out and spreading at a staggering rate. Social Media has amplified this problem tenfold, as well. Reading a bold headline and scrolling through a couple comments about an article - which feature the opinions of people who may or may not have actually read the article themselves - has taken a precedence over learning and knowing real facts. It’s the “I’m just here for the comments” culture. We’ve become addicted to this type of information intake, while researching and understanding as little as we can for ourselves. This simply gives us a false impression of being informed.

The disregard to obtain fundamental facts is the recipe for information to get twisted, and is exactly how “fake news” starts to incubate. Our ability to question what we read or hear needs to improve and hold strong in order to stop this from happening. Not only do we need to understand information we receive, we need to understand where it comes from. When you are reading something ask yourself some questions such as, how did the author get this information? What are the sources? Are they credible? All of these questions and more should come to mind, even when we get told something by someone who may typically share good information.


1. Stop and Think

Before drawing conclusions about a topic and then sharing it with others, reflect on the information you have. Are you confident that the information is 100% true? If someone shares information you shared with them, are you a credible source? If the info was later discovered to be incorrect, would you be comfortable with your name attached to spreading false information?

2. Check the Source

Don’t assume information is coming from a credible place. For example, if it comes from a website, click away from it to investigate the sites history, its mission, and its contact info. You probably wouldn’t take advice from a person that’s known to have a bad reputation, or that is overly bias, so do the same when it comes to other information sources. 

3. The Source’s Source

Where and how does your source get its information? A proper article should cite the information and data they are sharing. Investigate their sources for yourself. Does the information line up, was important information left out, or are facts being twisted? If they don’t have a source at all, or it comes from a non-credible source, that should be a red flag.

4. Check the Date

Does this information align with current events? Make sure you know if there have been updates to the information since it was originally published.

5. Look out for Satire

Is this just a joke that you are taking too serious? If something seems extremely outlandish, that may be by design. Again, check your source and research your author to see if this is their trend. 

6. Viral Traps & Clickbait

Sometimes information is put out, especially on social media, which is meant to be misinterpreted, false, or to create rage in order to get clicks. This information often encourage clicking and spreading by using outrageous or false headlines. Sometimes the posts use language like, “please share this with everyone immediately.” Just because everyone is sharing information, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

7. Check Yourself

Could your own personal bias be making you feel a certain way about a topic and clouding your better judgement? Just because you want something to be true or false, it doesn’t make it the truth.

8. Ask an Expert

If you’re still unsure, ask someone who may have more experience on the matter. Check with non-bias fact checker resources.


Don’t take our word for it!  Here are some places you can go that are not the government to find out if what you are reading is really true.

Fact Check:


First Draft:




To help determine the bias and overall accuracy of online news sources:

Media Bias / Fact Check:


Sources on COVID-19:

Johns Hopkins Medicine:

SUNY Upstate:


For more information about fact checking and misinformation:


Simon Fraser University:


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